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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 7

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-6

Wisdom Seen in Being Sober-minded In light of the Preacher’s discourse on man’s depravity (Ecclesiastes 5:18 to Ecclesiastes 6:12), Ecclesiastes 7:1-6 places emphasis upon the wisdom that is found in being sober minded in the sense that the reality of death and sorrow in this world should affect a person’s views of life around him. It is only the fool who ignores reality and makes his priority the entertainment of his soul. We find these two attitudes contrasted in Isaiah 22:12-13.

Isaiah 22:12-13, “And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.”

In the midst of man’s depravity we should mourn and find repentance rather than ignoring sin and pursuing pleasure. A person who has lived many years and experienced many things tends to be more sober minded, because he has seen and experienced the realities of man’s sorrows. In contrast, the young and inexperienced tend to look at life as an opportunity to find entertainment and adventure, being more carefree and careless. Both attitudes face the mortality of a man’s soul, but prepare for it from two different ways; for the wise man prepares himself to meet his Maker, while the fool continues in his sin until death comes.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 “A good name is better than precious ointment” Comments - A person’s reputation is of much greater value than earthly things, such as expensive oil. We see an example of such expensive oil when “a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious” broke it and anointed Jesus’ feet (Mark 14:3).

Ecclesiastes 7:1 “and the day of death than the day of one's birth” Comments - A newborn baby has laid before him a life of trials and trouble, and his journey and end no one can foresee. However, him that is dead is at rest from the troubles of this world. Thus, this phrase in Ecclesiastes 7:1 takes an earthly perspective of life.

Ecclesiastes 7:2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 Comments - When Menchu was in high school and college, there were many merry times laughing with her friends. Laughing and joking were a daily part of the activity of the “campus girls”. However, marriage came, and Menchu found herself in the mission fields of Africa within a few months of leaving her friends in the Philippines. Gone were the giggles and laughter with her friends. Now came times of missing her friends, finding herself is a new world where few people could be trusted. However, with this sorrow came understanding, a new insight into life. She began to see the world as God sees the world. She began to sacrifice her feelings and her life to serve others, rather than enjoying her own desires. Her heart felt the satisfaction that only comes from serving the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 7:4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

Ecclesiastes 7:5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

Ecclesiastes 7:5 Comments - A rebuke is more difficult to receive that a merry song; however, the reality is that a rebuke does much more good in the long run.

Ecclesiastes 7:6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 7:6 Comments - If a person has ever made a fire using solid, dense wood, he knows how slowly and quietly it burns while producing much heat to warm the soul. When a fire is made from light woods, such as the thorny plants, is disappointed when the fire burns quickly and produces little heat. Yes, it makes a lot of crackling noise as this light wood burns, and its sound implies a warm fire, but the reality is that its fire is weak and short lived. Thus, the Preacher compares the laughter of the fool to the fire that provides very little warmth. He sounds like a person who is walking in victory, but the reality is he cannot help himself, much less others. However, it may refer to the aspect of an irritating noise that is produced by both crackling fire and a fool’s laughter.

Verses 1-29

Indoctrination: Practical Wisdom to Fear God In Ecclesiastes 7:1 thru Ecclesiastes 11:8 the Preacher gives illustrations of practical wisdom, or doctrine on how to fear God in this life. In other words, these proverbs give us wisdom on how to bring our lives into God’s divine plan that we were created to pursue. Much of this passage is delivered as a collection of proverbs, or short, pithy sayings, that summarize wisdom and is very similar to the book of Proverbs in structure. However, I believe that these particular set of Proverbs are designed to guide us into finding the answers for how to serve the Lord with all of our strength.

Why is this section the longest one in the book of Ecclesiastes? Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that the underlying theme of the book is the keeping of God’s commandments in the fear of the Lord. Thus, the Preacher takes the time to list these commandments. In a similar way, the longest section in the book of Proverbs is wisdom’s call (Proverbs 1-9), since man’s daily walk in wisdom requires him to constantly recognize and hear wisdom’s call in order to make the right decisions each day.

Outline Here are a number of topics discussed in this section:

Wisdom Seen in Being Sober-minded Ecclesiastes 7:1-6

Wisdom’s Ability to Protect Ecclesiastes 7:11-12

Wisdom Found in Recognizing God’s Hand in Daily Life Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Wisdom Found in Moderation Ecclesiastes 7:15-18

Wisdom Found in Ignoring What Others Say About You Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

The Preacher’s Pursuit of Wisdom Ecclesiastes 7:23-25

The Tongue of the Wise and the Fool Ecclesiastes 10:11-14

The Principles of Sowing and Reaping Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

A Reminder of the Vanities of Life Ecclesiastes 11:7-8

Verses 7-29

Ecclesiastes 7:7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 Wisdom Seen in Patience Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 places emphasis upon the virtue of patience.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 “for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” Word Study for “resteth” - Strong says the Hebrew word “resteth” “nooakh” ( נוּחַ ) (H5117) means, “to rest, settle down,” and carries a wide variety of applications, “dwell, stay, let fall, place, let alone, withdraw, give comfort, etc.”

Comments - This verb implies that a fool will allow anger to settle down and remain in his heart. He allows carnal thoughts to keep this anger kindles. He is not able to lay aside an issue and forget it. Everyone feels angry, but a righteous man will soon lay aside his anger. It is a fool who will cling to his anger.

Illustration - I was getting ready to enter a courtroom one day to deal with a business lawsuit and the Lord quickened to me Ecclesiastes 7:9 (June 15, 2001). I knew that I was in court because the opposing party lacked control over his anger.

Ecclesiastes 7:10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.

Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 Wisdom’s Ability to Protect Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 places emphasis upon wisdom’s ability to protect those who live by its rules.

Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 Wisdom Found in Recognizing God’s Hand in Daily Life Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 places emphasis upon the wisdom that one finds in recognizing God’s hand at work in our daily lives.

Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 Wisdom Found in Moderation Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 places emphasis upon the wisdom that is found in living a life of moderation.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 Wisdom Found in Ignoring What Others Say About You Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 places emphasis upon the found in being able to ignore those who are speaking negative words around us.

Ecclesiastes 7:23-25 The Preacher’s Pursuit of Wisdom In Ecclesiastes 7:23-25 we are given a description of the Preacher’s pursuit of wisdom. Although he found wisdom, he also discovered the difficulty of applying it to his life. This reveals man’s sinful nature in this life, and reflects the Preacher’s cry for redemption from his own vanity.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/ecclesiastes-7.html. 2013.
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